Can you believe it's already the end of another year? But time's speedy passage has delivered yet another golden opportunity to eat and sip something wonderful. Here are some tips and recipes to get you started as we prepare to welcome 2012!
Wine quick links:
- Find wine pairings for a variety of holiday meals here
- Click on the "seasonal sips" tab for plenty of affordable sparkling wines
- Hear PCC Wine Guy Jeff Cox's additional sparkling recommendations
Appetizer quick links:
- Learn to transform local cheese into easy appetizers
- Find plenty of recipes, including Honeyed Nuts, Artichoke Bits and Spice-Candied Pears
- Watch PCC Chef Lynne Vea make a variety of delicious snacks, from Simple Chocolate Truffles to Oven Roasted Jalapeno Poppers, in this series of videos
Lucky foods at the dawn of a new year
Growing up, Mom raised us to eat long noodles for a long life, as well as plenty of fresh mochi and other special New Year treats. My friends from El Salvador eat 12 grapes at midnight, making a wish as they gulp each one. My Southern husband grew up eating black eyed peas, a key ingredient in a popular New Year's dish called Hoppin' John. Here's a great post from blogger Seasonal Wisdom about New Year traditions around the globe, as well as a fun piece from Epicurious about lucky New Year eats.
No matter how you celebrate, we wish you a delicious 2012!
Weary of Festivus fudge, Christmas cookies and Hanukkah gelt?
Steer your creative instincts back to the savory side. Make a dinner dish so satisfying dessert just has to take a back seat. Think delicate, dainty, delicious. Think wild Alaskan halibut, a steal right now at $15.99 lb through January 3 at PCC.
In the foreground: My first go at Pla Sam Rod. A-mazing.
My first experience with this gorgeous fish was less than stellar. A friend undercooked it to the point where it could have masqueraded as sashimi -- in a bad way. Years later, I tried it again in a PCC Cooks Thai cooking class with Pranee Halvorsen. She whipped up a simple yet grand dish called Pla Sam Rod. Lightly sauteed halibut, ensconsed beneath a flavorful bed of bright, vibrant vegetables, I was smitten.
Pondering a Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve supper? Consider serving PCC Chef Lynne Vea's Roasted Garlic and Wild Halibut Chowder with Basil-Caper Coulis as a starter or main. For a seasonal showstopper, try Lynne's Rosemary and Hazelnut Roasted Wild Alaskan Halibut with Sauteed Chanterelles and Pears. Talk about a fragrant, flavorful way to showcase all the best ingredients of these dark months!
Find even more halibut inspiration in our PCC Recipe Database. And if you're a newcomer to cooking with seafood, don't miss PCC Cooks instructor Becky Selengut's cookbook "Good Fish," also available at your local PCC.
Why buy halibut at PCC? Our entire seafood selection is sustainably harvested per the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. Read more about our committment.
It's one of my favorite times of year: citrus season! It's an effervescent dose of liquid sunshine and fragrant zest right when we need it most to battle against wintertime gloom and darkness. Time to get peeling.
Citrus best bets
- It's December, which means we're deep in the heart of Satsuma season! Pick up a box of these sweet, juicy organic gems as an easy hostess gift or potluck contribution. They also make delightful stocking stuffers and table centerpieces. Explore these fun recipes. Learn more about our grower, Johansen Ranch.
- Why buy organic citrus? Well, the higest concentrations of pesticides in conventinoal citrus are found in the peel. Anytime you plan to grate or zest or candy citrus peels for baking, sweets or cocktails, be sure to go organic for optimal quality and flavor.
- Did you know we sell preserved lemons in bulk in most of our Delis? Learn how to cook with them here (tip: put 'em to good use the next time you roast a chicken). And, learn how to preserve your own with fresh lemons here.
- Organic ruby red Rio Star grapefruit from Texas is arriving now, and it's sweet and juicy from our growers at South Tex Organics. Broil it, use it in French toast, juice it, make a mean salsa, add it to salads: find plenty of inspiration.
Thick-cut French Toast with Maple-Ginger Pink Grapefruit. Mmm...
Learn more about citrus
- Take a video tour of our citrus selection with P.J., our Redmond PCC produce manager.
- Check out our winter citrus primer.
- Get baking! Try Lemon Coconut Chews as a light treat after tea.
- Go savory. Citrus plays well with nearly any cuisine. Roast cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce or pull together Sizzling Szechuan Tangerine Chicken.
PCC Chef Lynne Vea's Sizzling Szechuan Tangerine Chicken. Just imagine how great it smells!
Tell us: How do you most like to enjoy citrus?
December is a baker's dream. The oven's heat is more than welcome. Recipes both treasured and new fly between friends and family. Traditions are born and continued. Homes and hearts fill with the scent of fresh-baked cookies, sugar and butter. So what are you waiting for?
Let's get started with recipes. Here are some quick links to frequent reqeusts in our recipe database:
Butter. Most bakers already have a favorite, but December's the perfect time of year to explore all your options. PCC's dairy cases are stocked with creamy, delicate butter ideal for baking from Denmark, single-origin butter from France, European-style goat's milk butter and everything in-between. Read more about all these creamy options and more in this Sound Consumer article.
Sugar. Intensify or lighten the sweetness of your baked goods with our range of sugars and alternative sweetners.
Eggs. Yes, you'll find locally raised organic chicken eggs. But have you discovered the loftiness duck eggs can lend your cakes and other baked goods? Learn more.
Flour. Why limit yourself to all-purpose white flour? PCC carries flour from just about every grain and seed imaginable, including brown rice, teff, buckwheat and quinoa. Browse our selection.
Now, get baking! And feel free to share photos of your handiwork with fellow PCC members and shoppers on our Facebook page!
Nothing dampens the cheeriness of the holidays quite like being down for the count with an awful cold or a bout of the flu. So play offense this December: follow these easy tips to keep your immune system strong.
Tip 1. Eat your organic greens. And keep eating them. Kale, chard, beet greens, collards and other vivid green leafy vegetables are packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants. Even better: they help the body rid itself of toxins, making it easier for the immune system to function at its peak. Click here to learn more about them and find plenty of vibrant recipes. If you prefer to drink your greens, click here to learn about powderered greens supplements you can easily add to your morning smoothie. And click here for our most popular video of 2011: how to make kale chips!
Tip 2. Take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic-rich foods. Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented/cultured foods that find a home in our digested system. According to PCC Nutrition Educator Nick Rose, these beneficial organisms assist with normal digestion and benefit our immune systems. Find them daily in foods like yogurt and kefir (all yogurt and kefir at PCC contains live active cultures), miso and tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi, and kombucha, the popular fermented tea. If you prefer a supplement, find plenty of healthy options in PCC's health and body care department.
Tip 3. Wash those hands. It seems so obvious, but when you consider all the surfaces we touch throughout each day, keeping your hands clean is key, especially before you eat. Wash with hot water and soap long enough to sing yourself a round of "Happy Birthday." Or, try one of PCC's alcohol- and chemical-free hand sanitizers from CleanWell, powered by naturally antibacterial thyme-oil.
Here are even more wellness tips:
- Learn to maintain healthy sinuses
- Get a full list of immunity boosters
- Ways to beat cold and flu
- A helpful video review of some of our best-selling cold and flu fighting products
Good luck, and stay well!
Make this the year you surprise your friends and family with homemade gifts, just as you've been meaning to do for years. While a tin of cookies is always welcome, we've got a variety of options to whet any appetite, including homemade mustard, from-scratch soup mix, spiced cocoa mix and herb roasted nuts.
Iole Aguero's Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Find the recipe here.
Find ideas and recipes for homemade gifts here. Or, pick up a free copy of December PCC Taste magazine on your next trip to PCC. And click here for a variety of our cookie recipes, including Whole Grain Cutter Cookies and Almond Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies.
Have fun getting crafty!
December has arrived and with it, a slew of gatherings galore. How will you ever be ready? With help from PCC, of course!
Are you the type who likes to make everything from scratch? Check out our Holiday Recipes selection, with oodles of appetizers, desserts and other ideas. We've also got plenty of tips on building a great cheese platter and pitch-perfect wine pairings. Plan to bake up a storm? Consult our flour selection and don't miss our handy gluten-free baking tips.
For those less inclined to cook, entertain with ease with help from the PCC Deli and Bakery. Reserve one of our party platters, bountiful with local cheese, high-quality meats and vegetables. Order one of our custom cakes to delight your guests, or pick up your favorite fruit pie or our Secret Recipe Fudge. A box of fragrant organic Satsumas will always bring smiles.And for toasting, you can't beat our selection of nogs, from the rich, traditional stuff in glass bottles to delightful coconut nog.
The best gifts are those that keep on giving, which means you just can't go wrong with the gift of a PCC Cooks class. Get ready, because you can register for a whole new slate of classes beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30! Please note that our website updates that same morning; pick up a catalog now at any PCC location for an advance look at the offerings.
Send your favorite chef on a trip without ever leaving the Northwest with our selection of Global Gourmet classes, featuring cuisine from Thailand, Italy, India, Japan, France, Turkey, China and Spain. Learn tricks of the trade from local guest chefs: this session's lineup includes Maria Hines of Golden Beetle organic Mediterranean cuisine; Ashlyn Forshner of pork-happy Lecosho; and Lisa Nakamura of Allium (on Orcas Island). You'll also find classes for kids, gluten-free cooks, diabetics, vegans, meat lovers, wine fanatics, bakers, health-minded folks looking for a good detox, and everyone in-between.And if you haven't already attended, don't miss our free Walk, Talk and Taste store tours, a must for those looking to cook more meals from scratch, for the latest gluten-free products, or just those who'd like to familiarize themselves with all that PCC has to offer (and, sample plenty of foods in the process).
Don't forget: several of our fall session classes still have openings, including several focused on holiday baking . Click here to view the list.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, we spend days debating how best to roast the turkey, whip the potatoes, toss the perfect autumnal salad. But my goodness: no feast is complete without dessert, so let us focus now on that all important conclusion to dinner.
One ridiculously good after-dinner tempation: PCC Chef Lynne Vea's Roasted Pumpkin and Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake. Yes, you read that right. Smooth, rich, spectacular, and, not too hard to make. Watch this video to see how.
Another glistening, seasonal showstopper: Upside-Down Caramel Pear Torte with Cinnamon and Fresh Cranberries. Watch this video to learn how simple it is to put together.
Visit our Thanksgiving recipes page for dozens of holiday dessert recipes, appetizer ideas and more. Too swamped to bake? Stop by the PCC Bakery for fresh fruit pies, pumpkin pie, fudge, decadent cakes and several great vegan options. Click here to peek at our selection of freshly made desserts.
It's my third Thanksgiving at PCC headquarters, but the sense of wonder has yet to evaporate. I've been to office potlucks aplenty. But this seriously takes the cake.
Yes, we've transformed our conference rooms into a giant dining hall, complete with tablecloths and cloth napkins, candles, seasonal centerpieces and food galore. Each year, a team led by recently retired PCC legend (and fabulous cook) Goldie Caughlan begins scrubbing, chopping, mincing, stirring and roasting before most of us even reach the office kitchen for our first cup of coffee. Not that we need to head into the kitchen. Janice, our PCC Board Administrator, lays out a breakfast buffet each year, complete with fresh coffee. As if we needed more to eat on this day!
Read on for plenty of tasty photos.
Organic leeks, winter squash, potatoes, onions ... everything our team will need to create the feast!
Gorgeous, plump carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes, scrubbed and ready to roast.
Eli, associate editor of the Sound Consumer, poses with potatoes.
Alicia from PCC Cooks gives the aple stuffing ingredients a good stir.
Goldie and Alicia, hard at work over the cast-iron skillets on the sherried leek and mushroom gravy (see last post for the recipe!).
Some of Goldie's tools of the trade. I've never encountered anyone who wields sherry vinegar so deftly.
And finally, it's time to eat! There are always several renditions of the most popular dishes to ensure vegan and gluten-free options alongside the traditional.
Green bean almondine at the ready.
Baked squash, stuffed with roasted root vegetables and rice pilaf.
My plate, piled high with roasted winter squash, wheat berry slaw, green bean almondine, turkey, roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes ensconced in sherried mushroom gravy, fresh cranberry sauce with honey, marinated fava beans (but no chianti), braised winter greens and more!
It's Dulce's (aka DJ's) first office Thanksgiving! Tom from marketing fills her in on key strategy ... such as sitting around the corner from the dessert buffet.
And oh, the dessert... blueberry galette, pumpkin cheesecake, fresh fruit salad, pecan pie with chocolate chips, pumpkin pie and so much more.
Happy, happy Thanksgiving from all of us at PCC to you and yours!